|Toronto Peace Festival
Varsity Stadium, Toronto, Ontario, Canada - 13 September 1969
by David Lilly
When the Music's Over
Break on Through
Back Door Man/Maggie MaGill/Roadhouse Blues/Backdoor Man
The Crystal Ship
Wake Up/Light My Fire
At least two things are intriguing about this show. Jim et al sound almost like they are in the room with you - and - the beginning of the show might cause you to wonder if this recording is complete because it starts abruptly; seconds after the beginning notes of When The Music's Over. Apparently it is complete, however, except for those few intro-notes we'll have to live without. When they bossa nova into Break On Through next, it might as well be with all the newness and intensity of 1967 and the beginning of national awareness of the band, its music, and its sense of drama. In other words, regardless of Miami, New Haven, and any other dark moments along the Doors' path, this Toronto gig was redeeming. Spirited and involved in their onstage art, Jim and his musical brothers played this gig with the energy of a band bringing their music to the public for the first time. Pretty remarkable, considering their post-Miami concert fallout.
Back Door Man cooks. It wasn't performed in quite the same manner as at the Matrix Club two and a-half years earlier, but the sense of danger is definitely present. Jim summons sexuality, sanctuary, and mystery when singing, "Somethin' let me come inside" and then interjects lines from Maggie MaGill and Roadhouse Blues into this blues jam just before returning to the last of the familiar sounds of Back Door Man. The Crystal Ship is pretty faithful to the studio version and Jim's singing is gorgeous; on key and full of vibrato. The FISH cheer is offered from the audience, only to be interrupted by the Wake Up section of The Celebration of the Lizard, segueing into the hypnotic, stimulating and absorbing Light My Fire. Sans a video recording, one can only imagine what Jim was doing during this extensive jam, but he might've been collecting his thoughts about how it was such an "honor to perform on the same stage with so many illustrious musical geniuses," as he referred to Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and John Lennon, during his clearly heartfelt homage to those of rock n roll who came before. This during the instrumental beginning of his own epic, The End. Yes, Jim expressed his sincere sense of humility and then joined his band's pulsating introduction to The End, and delivered a fiery performance of that particular signature Doors song. The Doors, with Morrison, was a band that had several songs - more than most bands - that could be considered "signature" songs. This show featured Light My Fire and The End as the extended two-part finale to this set.
If you like the darkest of The Doors' studio work and most of what you've read about or heard of their live recordings, this would be a respectable addition to your collection of Doors' music. The sound quality doesn't get any better and there's no neutral ground for reactions to their performance; if you find them overly melodramatic, you'll get some laughs here. If you enjoy the drama of a live Doors' show, you'll definitely want a copy of this one.
Copyright 2002 by David Lilly/waiting-forthe-sun.net